Harkening back to my "The Americans Have Landed" piece for Esquire in 2007, this piece (via WPR's Media RoundUp) revisits the five geographic sub-divisions pursued by AFRICOM, a staple concept I used in the brief for a couple of years following my reporting. It was the source of my prediction in the piece that the US could one day have two dozen little forts around the vast continent like the one I visited, and reported on, along Kenya's coastline. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the star of the piece, is the model for four other sub-regional units (north, south, west and central. At the time I visited, HOA had Djibouti as the sub-regional command site, plus "contingency operating locations" in Ethiopia (3, with one just closed in connection with Ethiopia's intervention into Somalia) and Kenya (1). That's one mini-HQ and 4 COLs for a total of 5 facilities. Replicate that four times and you've got roughly two-dozen little forts, albeit spread across a landscape roughly triple the size of the United States. HOA's HQ was 2k, and the COLs were more like 50 a pop, so let's say 2,200 total. Replicate that four more times and you're talking a whopping total of 10,11-000 personnel (with lots being civilian contractors). As presence goes, this is a tiny force for such a huge continent, so it can only be about leveraging local capacity.
To compare, we sent 10k personnel to Haiti for the earthquake. Think about that: Haiti versus Africa!
And let's just say, we didn't exactly control Haiti on the basis of 10,000 personnel.
Anyway, here's what this piece in the Geopolitical Monitor says:
The month before AFRICOM began its one-year incubation under U.S. European Command in 2007, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ryan Henry said, “Rather than three different commanders who have Africa as a third or fourth priority, there will be one commander that has it as a top priority.” 
The Pentagon official also revealed that Africa Command “would involve one small headquarters plus five ‘regional integration teams’ scattered around the continent” and that “AFRICOM would work closely with the European Union and NATO,” particularly France, a member of both, which was “interested in developing the Africa standby force”. 
The Defense Department official identified all the key components of Africa Command’s role and adumbrated what has transpired in the almost three-year interim: By subsuming nations formerly in the areas of responsibility of three Pentagon commands under a unified one, the U.S. will divide the world’s second most populous continent into five military districts, each with a multinational African Standby Force trained by military forces from the United States, NATO and the European Union.
Later the same month, the Pentagon confirmed its earlier disclosure that AFRICOM would deploy regional integration teams “to the northern, eastern, southern, central and western portions of the continent, mirroring the African Union’s five regional economic communities….”
The Defense News website detailed the geographic division described in Defense Department briefing documents issued in that month:
“One team will have responsibility for a northern strip from Mauritania to Libya; another will operate in a block of east African nations – Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania; and a third will carry out activities in a large southern block that includes South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola….
“A fourth team would concentrate on a group of central African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Congo [Brazzaville]; the fifth regional team would focus on a western block that would cover Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Western Sahara, according to the briefing documents.” 
The five areas correspond to Africa’s main Regional Economic Communities, starting in the north of the continent:
- Arab Maghreb Union: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
- East African Community (EAC): Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
- Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
- Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS): Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe.
- Southern Africa Development Community: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The piece, with snippets of snarky editorializing here and there ("Pentagon Builds Surrogate Armies To Control Africa Region By Region" Oh really! That's all it takes? My, that was easy!), lays out a lot of references and gets the facts basically correct (although I think it misidentifies HOA as--in effect--a sixth separate effort, as it basically correction to the EAC layout + Ethiopia). It also explores my colleague Harry Ulrich's similar networking effort in the naval realm (something I also wrote on for Esquire: "Sea-Traffic Control").
But like I say in the post headline, a fairly natural breakdown by geography: a local precinct effort by the US to encourage regional integration in the security realm that buttresses that which is already unfolding in the economic realm. Every neighborhood gets its community cop (locally-derived peacekeeping units) with an attendant mentor (AFRICOM sub-regionals).
Naturally nefarious to some, but who else is making the effort? Especially when our economic interests are marginal beyond oil, and the oil will flow no matter how many brushfires were to happen anyway.
Nonetheless, the piece ends on this note, however unsubstantiated it is by the actual text:
The U.S. is not dragging almost every nation in Africa into its military network because of altruism or concerns for the security of the continent’s people. AFRICOM’s function is that of every predatory military power: The threat and use of armed violence to gain economic and geopolitical advantages.
Yes, yes. Making Africa safe for Chinese mercantilism. So selfish of us!
Worth reading for the facts, just understand that the editorializing is both hyperbolic and unsupported.